Reviewed at AMLF screening room, Paris, June 8, 1993. Running time: 110 MIN.
Antoine … Antoine Hubert
Olivia … Olivia Munoz
Mrs. Hervy …Therese Leotard
Mr. Hervy … Jean-Francois Stevenin
Olivia’s mother … Ludmila Mikael
Francoise … Romane Bohringer
“A Cause d’Elle” is a moving, impeccably acted account of a modest young man’s maturing via chaste tutoring by a sober upper-class girl. “Le Grand Chemin” (“The Grand Highway”) Jean-Loup Hubert’s semiautobiographical pic perfectly captures life in the French provinces, circa 1963, and conveys nascent adolescent love and ambition with rare power.
“Professional dreamer” Antoine (beautifully portrayed by helmer’s son) is almost 15 in the summer of 1963. He cares little for school and has been left back a grade, preferring to tinker in the attic with a homemade electric guitar.
Antoine’s sudden interest in an aloof, well-to-do only child named Olivia (eerily self-possessed Olivia Munoz) is rewarded when he breaks his legs and studious, serious Olivia takes it upon herself to tutor him in literature. Their awkward formality, as she introduces him to the world of lofty sentiments and classical music, is convincing and affecting. Reading the classics she gives him , Antoine realizes that he’s fallen in love with his privileged young teacher.
Story is lovingly built out of the small details that mark both a communal era and individual psyches. Helmer has stated that his films examine a milieu that was once at the heart of French cinema — ordinary families trying to get by, modest protagonists hoping to carve a place in the world.